EFF, Human Rights Watch Sue The DEA Over Mass Surveillance Program

from the good-timing dept

Well, that was quick. As we noted, just yesterday, USA Today published a detailed takedown of the DEA's massive phone records mass surveillance program that was actually started more than two decades ago. And this morning, the EFF, representing Human Rights Watch, filed a lawsuit over the program. Of course, the program had actually been revealed years ago, and back in January, the US government revealed some details itself about the program, which is what prompted the new lawsuit. As the EFF notes in its press release about the lawsuit:
“The DEA’s program of untargeted and suspicionless surveillance of Americans’ international telephone call records—information about the numbers people call, and the time, date, and duration of those calls—affects millions of innocent people, yet the DEA operated the program in secret for years,’’ said EFF Staff Attorney Nate Cardozo. “Both the First and Fourth Amendment protect Americans from this kind of overreaching surveillance. This lawsuit aims to vindicate HRW’s rights, and the rights of all Americans, to make calls overseas without being subject to government surveillance.”
I recommend reading the full complaint which has more details. It details why the program violates both the First and Fourth Amendments. The basic First Amendment argument:
By their acts alleged herein, Defendants have violated and are violating the First Amendment free speech and free association rights of Plaintiff and its staff, including the right to communicate anonymously, the right to associate privately, and the right to engage in protected advocacy free from government interference.
And the Fourth Amendment argument:
By the acts alleged herein, Defendants have violated Plaintiff’s reasonable expectation of privacy and denied Plaintiff its right to be free from unreasonable searches and seizures as guaranteed by the Fourth Amendment to the Constitution of the United States.
It seems likely that the government will pull out all the usual stops to try to end this lawsuit, arguing "national security" and "state secrets" and all that jazz. However, as the USA Today report noted, Eric Holder agreed to kill off this program after realizing that it was nearly impossible to defend in the same manner as the feds were trying to defend the NSA's bulk phone records collection...

Filed Under: 1st amendment, 4th amendment, dea, first amendment, fourth amendment, lawsuit, mass surveillance, metadata, phone records, surveillance
Companies: eff, human rights watch


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  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 8 Apr 2015 @ 2:54pm

    >However, as the USA Today report noted, Eric Holder agreed to kill off this program after realizing that it was nearly impossible to defend in the same manner as the feds were trying to defend the NSA's bulk phone records collection...

    So the only time he does his job well, is when he doesn't do his job? Is that why they haven't indited Clapper, and the Banks?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Padpaw (profile), 9 Apr 2015 @ 5:40am

      Re:

      too big to fail, too big to jail as long as they give billion dollar bribes.

      They make trillions laundering money for terrorists and other criminals, and pay a percentage of that to the US government to stay in business. Protection money as it were for abusing their citizens

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Spaceman Spiff (profile), 8 Apr 2015 @ 2:57pm

    DEA?

    So, what does "DEA" really mean? I think it means "Drug Enablement Administration" since they have been just so successful at spending billion$ of our tax dollars to increase drug use in this country!

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 8 Apr 2015 @ 3:30pm

      Re: DEA?

      A big question is why the DEA even needs to exist, especially in light of states' moves toward drug legalization. If anything, maybe the DEA and the CIA should be combined into one agency. Maybe then they won't be in bed with with the other agency's adversaries, as has happened so frequently throughout the world over the last several decades.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 8 Apr 2015 @ 3:45pm

        Re: Re: DEA?

        The CIA acquisition of the DEA is a worse merger than Comcast and Time Warner.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • icon
        TomStone (profile), 8 Apr 2015 @ 4:13pm

        Re: Re: DEA?

        Both ATF and DEA exist as places to put cops who are too corrupt or incompetent to find jobs elsewhere.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 8 Apr 2015 @ 9:12pm

        Re: Re: DEA?

        The DEA does a hell of a lot more regulation of drug sales than just crack down on people who grow/smoke weed, which is the only thing that states are moving to legalize.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • icon
        Uriel-238 (profile), 8 Apr 2015 @ 10:31pm

        The Drug Enforcment Agency

        Technically it's because we have a shit ton of recreational substances that are trafficked into the US. Mostly pot, yes, but also heroin, crystal meth and crack cocaine are big commodities).

        (Powder cocaine is also still trafficked

        Now the DEA was formed largely due to the infrastructure that rises from mass trafficking. It's white-collar crime with guns, so the local precincts were too lightly armed to deal with big organized crime. Now they're adequately armed but poorly trained, and, as with the prohibition era, most cops and judges that brush against the drug trade are on the take.

        That's the justification for the DEA. Whether or not it actually does this job, or rather perpetuates the problem to justify its own existence and in the meantime costing the nation money and civil forfeitures, is a different issue. It seems that law enforcement agencies in general are particularly susceptible to Pournelle's Iron Law of Bureaucracy.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • icon
          Uriel-238 (profile), 8 Apr 2015 @ 10:37pm

          My incomplete thought.

          Powder cocaine is still trafficked into the US, but those who can afford it are usually rich enough to be above the law. There's also traffic of hundreds of medications available by prescription (though mostly painkillers) which enter the market either through corrupt pharmacists (almost all of them) or through over-prescription.

          From what I've seen at the bottom end of that, doctors will oversupply their patients so that the extra drugs can be sold / traded to supply all the material needs that insurance doesn't cover (e.g. crutch-pads, orthopedic sleeping aids, booze and ice-cream for when you realize you have no friends and are going to die literally lame).

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • icon
        tqk (profile), 9 Apr 2015 @ 9:26am

        Re: Re: DEA?

        I take it you're unaware of the CIA's past and current efforts to enable the illicit drug trade. They're supporting the heroin producers in Afghanistan now fomenting a heroin epidemic in the proxy war with Russia. Before that it was crack cocaine in CA, and before that it was weed in SE Asia (Air America).

        Why we have to pay for two agencies ostensibly doing exactly the opposite things is an exercise left to the reader.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • icon
          GEMont (profile), 9 Apr 2015 @ 5:15pm

          Re: Re: Re: DEA?

          "Why we have to pay for two agencies ostensibly doing exactly the opposite things is an exercise left to the reader."

          That's a no brainer actually.

          If we did not have the one agency creating the drug problem, we could not have the other agency fighting the drug problem, because, there would be no drug problem to fight.

          Keep in mind that this is a double dipping process, where the one agency makes a fortune in un-accountable cash from running the drug trade, while the other agency makes an un-accountable fortune from tax payers, fighting the drug trade.

          In USG and MAFIA circles (organized crime circles) its considered to be the biggest and best Win Win business model ever created, since War itself.

          And like War, those on the front lines in these phony Wars On Stuff scams are not the ones who start, promote and profit from them.

          In fact its so popular, they decided to do the exact same thing with the declared War on Terror, the un-declared War on File-Sharing, and the soon to be announced War on Cyber-Hackers.

          One hand manufactures the problem so the other hand can fight the problem.

          As long as the hand that creates the crisis is not caught in the act, this whole process makes government appear to be totally necessary - to fight the evil (they created) - to those who cannot see what is directly in front of their faces - like the vast majority of human beings on earth.

          Many decades ago, Prohibition One taught both the Mobsters and the Statesmen, just how profitable a morality based contraband substance, or prohibited practice could become and they've both been pulling in massive annual profits from the model ever since.

          ---

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 8 Apr 2015 @ 7:06pm

    Statute of Limitations?

    Is it possible to sue the government over a two decade old program that has been "discontinued"?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    GEMont (profile), 9 Apr 2015 @ 4:52pm

    Predictability.2

    Chances of anyone ever making the utterly autonomous USG do anything it does not want to do....

    Welcome to Hell Snowflake.

    ---

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]


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